"" Writer's Wanderings: Word of the Day--oeuvre

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Word of the Day--oeuvre

Are you like me? Do you read along in books or articles and come across a word that makes you stumble? Depending on the level I'm reading, I often have to sit with a dictionary at my side.

Well, this morning, I was enjoying a second cup of coffee and perusing (I looked that up--impressed?) my new copy of Writers Digest. There was a great story about a new book, fiction, that gives an account of the mysterious death of Edgar Allan Poe. It uses the author's extensive research to propose a theory of why he died. I was intently reading, or perusing, when I suddenly fell flat on my face as my eyes hit the word, oeuvre.

At first I thought it had something to do with hors d'oeuvres. After all, it has the word oeuvres in it. But no, they weren't talking about food. I tried to fit it into the sentence to figure it out and failed. Webster was all the way in the den and even though I called out to him, he didn't answer.

I shrugged it off, finished the article and went on to read another. Bam! there it was again-twice in the same magazine! Well, that was too much. I hauled Webster out of the den and flipped him open. Sure enough, there was such a word without the appetizing reference to food. According to Webster, oeuvre means a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer.

Hmmm. Makes sense. I was reading about writers. But it's close relationship to hors d'oeuvres has me craving chips and salsa. Go figure. Guess I'll peruse the pantry next.

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